Singapore to Chiang Mai Part 7 – “Nam Tok to Bangkok (via death railway)”

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It was a relaxed morning with not much to do but to let the rain pass. Then it was organising the taxi to the pier, ferry back to​ Don Sak pier and a bus to Surat Thani train station.

 

I was quezy from the windy/bumpy taxi ride to the pier, so it wasn’t a good start for me on the ferry. It was up and down, side to side. The ferry journey took every fibre in my body to avoid being sick. This may sound crazy, but it felt as though I was going through contractions. Not assimilating the same pain felt, but the amount of mental power and energy I exerted the entire journey.
I kept telling myself to “breath in, breath out”…. “mind over matter… mind over matter” over and over again. It was an Olympic mental effort. Just when I thought I was feeling ok and “I have this under control” the so-called contractions would reappear and I had to go through the entire breath in, breath out… mind over matter self-talk. This went on and on for the entire 2.5hr boat ride. I learned to go to a happy place, or somewhere else where I could focus my attention.

For some reason this other place was snowboarding. I was mentally boarding and practising my turns, going from back to front edges. It felt so real, that it kept my mind off for a while.

The closer we got to Don Sak the stronger the urge to pewk became. I could actually feel my entire blood pressure drop and my body shake. I was very close and I had a plastic bag ready, but I breathed through it and talked myself into calming down.

Reaching the port couldn’t have come sooner. But we docked at another pier because the sea was too rough. We were soon herded onto a bus. The bus ride took another 2 hours until we reached Surit Thani train station just before 5pm. We had approx 4 hours to kill before our sleeping train.

I was still very ill. Something was not right. My head was still spinning and I could not settle my stomach, as much as I tried. It took an hour or so before the vertigo feeling subsided.

We parked ourself in a restaurant opposite the station where we spent the next few hours killing time before our 9:04pm train.

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Interesting menu at the restaurant lol

Night train from Surat Thani to Nakhonpathom 

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We caught a night train.

Depart:    Surat Thani             9:04pm

Arrive:     Nakhonpathom     7:30am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sleeping trains were very interesting in Thailand. We were worried that we because they were only 2-birth we would have to split up and each sleep with one of the boys. However, the guard showed us that the doors could open up between the two rooms. The beds were a little wider, compared to the sleeping trains in Vietnam and there was more room.

The other fascinating aspect was the different sleeping arrangements possible. Normal seats converted into beds for night travels! (see photos).

 

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Video of the morning arriving to Nakhonpathom

 

 

We arrived into Nakhonpathom and had a little bit of time to grab some breakfast before our next train. We walked a little down the road and had some soup.

 

 

Death Railway – AKA ‘Bridge over the river kwai’

We commenced the journey from Nakhonpathom to Nam Tok. The goal was to go over the well-known death railway that linked Thailand and Burma during WW2 – made famous by the movie “The bridge over the river Kwai” (1957). When one realises the amount of effort and history behind the construction of the bridge, it is impressive, yet also quite disturbingly solemn.

Exhaustion, starvation, disease and torture were the chief causes of fatalities among those impelled by the invading Japanese to gouge a rail route through dense jungle and solid rock between October 1942 and December 1943.

from Wikipedia:

The Burma railway was an impressive accomplishment. As an American engineer said after viewing the project, “What makes this an engineering feat is the totality of it, the accumulation of factors. The total length of miles, the total number of bridges — over 600, including six to eight long-span bridges — the total number of people who were involved (one-quarter of a million), the very short time in which they managed to accomplish it, and the extreme conditions they accomplished it under. They had very little transportation to get stuff to and from the workers, they had almost no medication, they couldn’t get food let alone materials, they had no tools to work with except for basic things like spades and hammers, and they worked in extremely difficult conditions — in the jungle with its heat and humidity. All of that makes this railway an extraordinary accomplishment.”[7]

The movie trailer:

 

We of course only caught the train to Nam Tok, which is where it ends. The route to Burma has been disturbed and closed up by a so-called hydropower dam on the Thai side.

We caught the train at approximately 9:00am and the journey takes approximately 3 hours. Tourists usually get off at Kanchanaburi station or Saphan Kwae Yai. This allows sufficient time for travellers to get off and see the local historical artefacts, before the train stops at Nam Tok (last stop), and turns around heading to Bangkok.

Contrary to most, who either get off the train and catch it again, OR stay a couple of days, we did not get off the train. Instead, we ventured to Nam Tok, absorbing the picturesque views.  The train stopped for a few minutes in Nam Tok and we were now headed to Bangkok. As you can imagine it was a LONG journey on the train! We were almost 24 hours on a train – straight after our night train.

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Death railway

close up of the death railway route

Fortunately, the boys did splendidly! They were entertained with the views, the local people, watching movies and playing games. However, I must admit, by the time evening came, I couldn’t wait to get off the train!

We finally arrived into Bangkok! But not the main train station of Hua Lamphong, but we arrived at Thonburi (which is across the river).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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